A Grand Night For Singing

A Grand Night For Singing

A Grand Night For Singing
Conceived by Walter Bobbie
Music and Lyrics by Richards Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Arrangement by Fred Wells
Directed by Roy Alan
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park Playhouse

You know this show is going to get serious as soon as you sit down, there’s a harp smack in the middle of the stage. Roger and Hammerstein are always a popular mix of uplifting music and gentle social messages, but Director Roy Alan REALLY likes them – he choked up introducing the show, a first in my experience. From the spritely opening number “The Carousel Waltz” to the emotional “Impossible/ I have dreamed” closer, the WPPH singers belted out another top notch show in their crowed little studio. Picking out a favorite is out of the question, but Tim Eveniki’s “Surry with the Fringe on Top” set a standard that lasted a full six songs until Patrick Brant and the company hit another homer with “Honey Bun”. That’s the song with that wonderfully sexist line “… broad where a broad should be broad….” The theme of sex and roses continued with “Don’t Marry Me” (Brandt and Evanicki) and “Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair” with Belinda Johnson, Natalie Cordone, and the ever elegant Heather Alexander. Harpist Dawn Marie Edwards adds an elegant touch to the always engrossing paints Chris Leavy and drummer Sam Forrest.

Most of these songs come from musicals, and Rogers and Hammerstein made some of the best. Their real contribution was moving the song and dance elements from decorative filigrees to integral elements in pushing the story forward. True, gangs can break into dance numbers and dream lovers appear magically, but now they build the story and the element of “huh?” rarely crosses the viewer’s mind. The magic of these songs is they all stand alone, each a coherent scene that stands alone and allows these singers to show their stuff. In the hands of skilled singers like those who haunt WPPH, each becomes a magic spell unto itself.

For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org

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